Liposuction (Suction-Assisted Lipectomy) consists of the removal of excess fatty tissue all over the body and even the face. It is one of the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures. In expert hands, the procedure is safe, reliable and very rewarding. Traditional liposuction removes fat with a suction machine and a small cannula that is moved beneath the skin. A number of techniques can be used at the surgeon’s discretion. Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) is a technique in which an ultrasound probe is inserted beneath the skin to “liquefy” the fat before it is suctioned. Power assisted liposuction (PAL) is a technique in which the cannula is put in motion with a machine. There are laser based machines that liquefy fat which is subsequently removed with the standard cannula. Ultimately, it is the surgeon who determines the safety and quality of your results and not the machine.
The tumescent technique refers to the infusion of a saline solution containing a local anesthetic into the fat before liposuction to reduce blood loss and post-operative bruising and swelling. Larger volumes of fat removal require special expertise and appropriate staff and facilities. Please review my article The Art of Liposuction for a more thorough discussion of this popular procedure.
Dr. Caridi’s Take
A wonderful procedure in expert hands, for sure. Very disappointing if not dangerous in the hands of those who have no business offering this service. Buyer beware big time here – do not succumb to marketing gimmicks and inflated promises. This is a real procedure that should not be trivialized. It’s the smoothness and evenness of results that is most important to a satisfying experience. The surgeon is the artist, not the device used to contour the fat. Treating irregularities and asymmetries from a “botched” job is almost impossible.
General recommended, or in some cases Local with IV sedation. Small cases of isolated fatty deposits can be performed with tumescent anesthesia alone.
Risks and Benefits
Risks include temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation, temporary fluid drainage from incision sites, asymmetry, rippling (or bagginess of skin), and pigmentation changes. Large volume liposuction is associated with greater risks including shock and even death. The benefits of liposuction range from the treatment of relatively small “difficult” areas to a complete body reshaping. In appropriately selected patients, liposuction can be a catalyst to beneficial life changes. Liposuction is not performed for weight loss.
Recovery varies greatly depending on the amount of liposuction done. Most people can return to work after several days and be back to exercising in 2 weeks after their procedure. Full recovery from swelling and bruising can take several months. The use of postoperative homeopathic supplements such as Arnica and Bromelain may decrease post-operative bruising and swelling. Endermologie treatments are recommended in most cases to ensure optimal skin retraction. When larger amounts of fat are removed, it’s not uncommon to feel less energetic for several weeks. It’s important to move about after liposuction to speed recovery. Compression garments are worn for about four weeks. Areas of skin numbness recovers after a few months.